LOS ANGELES — While Indiana took a figurative flogging from homosexual-rights supporters for its new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Catholic schoolteacher in New Jersey has become a victim of “friendly fire” for opposing same-sex “marriage.”
Also, across the United States, civil-rights attorneys say some are quietly punished in workplaces for declining to express sufficient enthusiasm for same-sex “marriage” or to participate in parades and other celebrations of homosexual rights.
Even those working for Catholic institutions aren’t safe from such attacks, as evidenced in New Jersey, where Patricia Jannuzzi remains suspended from her job at a Catholic high school after homosexual-rights supporters objected to pro-marriage comments the longtime Catholic schoolteacher posted last month on her personal Facebook page.
“Those of us who support traditional marriage need to stop thinking we are part of a moral majority. Those days are over. We are increasingly part of a minority, and I don’t think that’s going to change. This is our new reality,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.
Attorney Chuck LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, said homosexual-rights activists have won history’s greatest public relations and marketing coup. He said it was carefully engineered and explained in a well-known 1990 book titled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s.
“The book was a manifesto on how to get society to this point,” LiMandri said. “Acceptance of homosexual lifestyles isn’t merely encouraged now: It’s mandatory if one wants to survive in professional environments.”
The blueprint in After the Ball was so wildly successful, he insists, thousands of Americans suffer for opposing or declining to support the cause.
“We are past the point where one can avoid being called a bigot and hater by simply remaining silent,” said LiMandri, whose organization defends people fired or otherwise punished for defending traditional marriage. “In some circumstances, one must celebrate the homosexual agenda and same-sex marriage or risk being called a bigot and hater and losing a job.”
Headline cases involve bakers and photographers who won’t create art to celebrate same-sex weddings or wealthy CEOs who get fired for supporting traditional marriage — such as former Mozilla executive officer Brendan Eich, who was forced to resign last year for supporting traditional marriage laws. But LiMandri said most people in similar situations pay the price in relative silence for standing by traditional views. From teachers to nurses to cops, he explains, Americans are admonished, fired and harassed for traditional views.
Among them is Robert Oscar Lopez, an English professor at California State University-Northridge in Los Angeles.
“My life has been a nightmare,” Lopez told the Register.
Life was normal until Aug. 6, 2012. That’s the day The Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse magazine published a paper Lopez wrote titled “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View.”
Lopez, a Baptist, who is bringing up two children in a traditional marriage, spent years of his adult life as a pro-homosexual activist. Despite his support for homosexual rights, Lopez wrote the essay because of overriding concerns for children growing up in circumstances similar to his.
His paper begins with: “The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them — I know, because I have been there.”
“As a kid, I needed a male role model,” Lopez told the Register. “Everyone has a dad. Unless he’s dead, if you never see him, it means someone who loves you has cut him from your life. That can be destructive. For the same reason we resist institutional segregation, we need to resist domestic segregation. Growing up with two parents of the same sex is to grow up in domestic segregation.”
Within hours of his article’s publishing online, Lopez came under an attack that has never relented. He was bombarded with threats and harassment on social media and in emails. Homosexual activists pressured university administrators to fire him, which they almost did. Someone circulated false negative credit information about him on the Internet. His phone number and email address were made public, along with screeds encouraging his harassment.
“There is no limit to what they will do, short of killing you, when you challenge their agenda,” Lopez said of militant homosexual activists who continue punishing him.
Aside from speaking about his own experience, Lopez also is involved with the International Children’s Rights Institute, an organization devoted to issues facing kids parented by same-sex couples or those growing up in poverty, divorce, conceived with third-party reproduction techniques or dealing with other unusual circumstances.
“Every one of the people who are part of the institute, who grew up in same-sex couple households, knows if they say anything less than positive about their upbringings, the floodgates will open,” Lopez explained. “They are likely to lose their jobs. Activists will try to get their parents to turn against them and denounce them publicly. By speaking out, they will subject themselves to an endless mill of Internet sites starting rumors about them.”
Lopez describes having “mixed feelings” about bakers and photographers in high-profile conflicts involving their refusals to produce art for same-sex “marriages.”
“These are the handful of cases everyone hears about. But they are the tip of the iceberg,” Lopez said. “There are many circumstances that are so much more severe. Most who go through this are isolated and don't have anyone to support them. We suffer behind the scenes.”
Homosexual Activist’s Arguments
Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality USA, said business executives, boards of directors and governments make sound decisions when protecting employees and customers from those who express views that make customers and colleagues feel uncomfortable. He emphasizes the need for workplaces and places of public accommodation in which no one worries about unequal treatment based on expressions of negative views regarding any individual’s sexual orientation.
Silva said the forced resignation of Mozilla’s Eich was a good, high-profile example of a company making a decision in favor of customers and employees.
“That business made a private decision after talking to employees and customers,” Silva said. “Nobody forced them to do that.”
Silva, who grew up Catholic and said he has “huge respect” for Church teachings about social justice, said he also respects that Catholic teaching forbids “marriage” and sexual relations among homosexuals.
“Every religion is allowed its own doctrine,” Silva said. “But most people are loving. While they may not agree with the LGBTQ community, many are in favor of treating LGBTQ individuals with dignity, respect and fairness. They don't see a problem with everyone keeping personal values and faith, but everyone should be treated fairly for who they are when working or doing business in public.”
‘They Give in and Shut Up’
LiMandri disputes the assertion that those who support traditional Christian teachings on homosexuality have been fairly treated in cases where they have experienced retribution in their workplaces as a consequence of expressing their beliefs publicly. He said only a tiny percentage of Americans punished for supporting traditional marriage or opposing same-sex “marriage” are able to seek a lawyer’s help, because most can’t afford to. Even pro-bono representation involves the risk of losing and the cost of waiting to win.
“They have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed, so they give in and shut up,” LiMandri said. “Others quit and try to get another job. Or they get fired and end up on social services. There are thousands and thousands of them across the country. They have said something or donated to something or declined to say something positive about same-sex ‘marriage’ and have become pariahs in their places of employment.”
Though wealthy Americans have generated scandal headlines for supporting traditional marriage — including Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy — LiMandri said other traditional-values celebrities have quietly avoided such conflicts.
LiMandri said an impressive array of nationally famous Catholics have backed out of engagements at retreats of Legatus, an organization of Catholic business leaders that adheres to Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage. As a director of the organization’s San Diego chapter, LiMandri speaks of one nationally known Catholic CEO “in tears” because his board of directors wouldn’t let him speak at last fall’s retreat. The man offered to resign from the board so he could speak, but was told he would still threaten the company’s brand by attending.
“They cannot participate without getting destroyed,” LiMandri explained, naming four nationally prominent Catholics who recently backed out for fear of backlash after accepting invitations to speak. In January, three prominent Catholics — Fox News anchor Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise and Molson Coors chair Pete Coors — withdrew their slots at the Legatus 2015 Summit following criticism from homosexual-rights supporters.
LiMandri’s friend Keith Fimian ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 11th District. Because Fimian serves on the national board of directors for Legatus, he was attacked in mailings by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for having a “radical agenda” on social issues. His Legatus association led to multiple Internet claims that he is an anti-homosexual “bigot.”
Even those working in specifically Catholic settings can face negative consequences. In Somerville, N.J., Patricia Jannuzzi — who is a longtime religion teacher at the Catholic Immaculata High School — was suspended without pay last month for posting concerns about her observations of the homosexual agenda on Facebook. She wrote, in part, in her response to a vulgar social-media entry by radical homosexual-rights activist Dan Savage: “We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!!!!!”
Jannuzzi’s salary has been restored, but her attorney, David Oakley, said he and his client cannot comment on the dilemma.
Another prominent recent case involves Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder, a military chaplain who served the Navy SEALS. He faces potential expulsion from the military for reportedly speaking about biblical teachings against homosexuality while privately counseling sailors.
“There is a concerted effort to demonstrate that your livelihood will be in danger if you are known to oppose same-sex marriage,” said Gallagher. “The more they can make you suffer personally and financially, the more they send a message to everyone else who may be inclined to defend traditional marriage.”
Gallagher and LiMandri have seemingly endless examples. There’s former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, fired in January for publishing a book for his church that contained several paragraphs critical of homosexuality. There’s a cop in Salt Lake City who was punished by the city for refusing to ride in a gay-rights parade because of personal religious objections. And city officials in Lexington, Ky., ordered Blaine Adamson to “sensitivity training” for declining to print T-shirts for a homosexual-pride festival.
LiMandri used to maintain a registry of people punished for religious views about marriage, but he said since 2012 episodes have become too common to track and document.
“Many people want to stand their ground, but they cannot afford to,” Gallagher said. “This is the new America. Don't be shocked; don't be angry. Get up, be not afraid, and find a way to survive as a traditional-values subculture.”
Wayne Laugesen writes from Colorado.